BRUSSELS – A French prosecutor urged judges to clear Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of aggravated pimping after two weeks of hearings revealed sordid details of the disgraced politician’s rough sex life but little proof he helped orchestrate a prostitution ring at the center of the trial.
The former head of the International Monetary Fund’s taste for orgies wasn’t on trial — and there was no evidence to show he was a pimp, Public Prosecutor Frederic Fevre told the court in Lille, France, Tuesday. Strauss-Kahn, 65, was accused of aiding and abetting in the prostitution of seven women from March 2008 to 2011 when the trial opened this month.
“I demand his full acquittal,” Fevre said. “Let’s make no mistake: no charges for sexual violence have been brought,” he said. “We shouldn’t let moral elements seep into this legal debate.”
DSK, as he’s known across France, is one of 14 defendants in a case known as the “Carlton Affair” for the name of the hotel in Lille where some of the orgies took place. The sex scandal is one of two that derailed his once promising political career and made him a figure of global derision. Strauss-Kahn, who once led polls to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as French president, has always denied knowing any of the women he had sex with were prostitutes.
Gilles Maton, a lawyer defending two prostitutes seeking compensation in this case, said both were dropping their claims against Strauss-Kahn due to lack of evidence, French broadcaster Europe 1 reported Monday.
In France, the prosecutor often argues the case built by the magistrate who led the investigation and ordered the trial. The prosecution can disagree with the magistrate, leaving the trial judges — in this case a three-judge panel led by Bernard Lemaire — to ultimately decide on the verdict, usually a few weeks after the hearings end.
“Dominique Strauss-Kahn should be treated like any other person” despite the extraordinary dimension this case has taken, said Fevre, referring to the media circus and moral and political outrage present throughout the three-week trial.
Three topless women protesters attacked Strauss-Kahn’s car as he approached the Lille courthouse for a hearing on Feb. 10. The women, with slogans such as “pimps, clients, guilty” written in black across their torsos, were tackled by police, allowing his black Audi sedan to enter the courthouse garage.
The politician faced questions about his sexual preferences during his testimony last week, with the one-time presidential hopeful conceding that he might be “rougher” than other men.
Strauss-Kahn was accused of forcing a prostitute to perform some sex acts against her will at a Brussels hotel. Sandrine Vandenschrik testified that Strauss-Kahn didn’t give her a chance to refuse his actions.
Strauss-Kahn was also quizzed about a text message in which he asked a friend to bring “equipment” to a sex party. The former IMF chief said he using the word to refer to women was “inappropriate.” He said his sexual behavior and the use of the phrase didn’t mean he saw the women as sex workers.
Paying for sex isn’t illegal in France, said Fevre in his opening comments Tuesday morning. While some may disapprove, “judges aren’t meant to criticize the law but to apply it,” the public prosecutor said.
“Everyone is allowed to lead the sexual life they wish so long as that remains within the boundaries of the law,” he told the court. “We are working with the penal code, not with the moral code.”
While Fevre backed charges against 12 out of 14 defendants, he said that judges should bear in mind in their verdict that among the accused men and women “some lost everything, their work, their honor, their reputation.”
“This wasn’t a mafia network that was dismantled” but rather a “group of friends” who organized orgies, Fevre said.
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